Pedego gives "fatbikes" a zap in the rear
By Ben Coxworth
February 19, 2013
If you’ve ever tried mountain biking through loose snow or sand, then you’ll know that even big ol’ 2.75-inch tires have a way of sinking in and bogging down. That’s why some bicycle manufacturers have recently started making what are known as fatbikes – rigid-frame mountain bikes with 4-inch or larger tires, that can be run as low as 8 psi (0.6 bar). They’re sort of like bikes with snowshoes. Now, California-based Pedego has released an electric fatbike, called the Trail Tracker.
Unlike so-called pedelecs, which use electrical power to augment the rider’s pedal strokes, this thing is an e-bike – it's either pedaled without any electrical assistance, or is run by motor power only, like a slimmed-down electric motorcycle.
As far as its regular bicycle specs go, the Trail Tracker features 26 x 4-inch Innova Spider clincher tires (which go down to 10 psi/0.7 bar), front and rear Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, a rustproof chain, and a hydro-formed aluminum frame that’s available in yellow, red, matte black or gloss black. In human-powered mode, the bike operates as a single-speed only.
Power is stored in a 48-volt 10Ah lithium-ion battery, and delivered through a 600-watt high-torque brushless geared hub motor – the Canadian version is limited to 500 watts. When the handlebar-mounted throttle is applied, a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) is possible – US federal law prohibits electric bikes from going any faster under motor power alone.
Not surprisingly, the Trail Tracker is no featherweight – it tips the scales at 62 pounds (28 kg). By contrast, the non-electric Surly Moonlander fatbike weighs about 38 pounds (17 kg). The question pretty much comes down to whether you’d prefer to propel a heavy-ish bike using nothing but your own power, or a substantially heavier bike using an electric motor for the harder parts.
The Trail Tracker’s price isn’t much more than that of most higher-end human-powered ultra-fatties, at US$2,975.
Whatever the price, fatbikes in general have become quite popular. Just within the past year or so, dealers have had difficulty keeping them in stock. The Trail Tracker appears to be part of this trend. “It's not on the website yet because we are selling them so fast that they are in very short supply,” Pedego CEO Don DiCostanzo told us. “We did not expect them to be such a hit so fast.”
The Trail Tracker is being introduced in the US and Costa Rica this month, with Canada and South Africa following in March, and Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Russia following in April and May.